November 02, 2021

#08-147: The Time Machine

Poster for the 1960 film version

Note: In one of literature's great "firsts," Englishman H.G. Wells explores the idea of time travel, while effectively commenting on the results of current trends in society.

Get Ready: What effects do you think result from the gap in society between rich and poor, or upper and lower classes?

H.G. Wells's The Time Machine was one of the first books to tackle the complex subject of time travel. It also explores the social implications of human evolution over long periods of time.

At the start of the story, a man known only as "the Time Traveller" shows some dinner guests a model of a machine that he says can cross "the fourth dimension": time.

The following week, he staggers into dinner late, and tells the party he has been to the year 802,701 A.D., where he meets a race of frail, childlike people called the Eloi. They seem happy, but they have an awful fear of the dark.

While still with the Eloi, he discovers that his machine has been taken! Fortunately, he had removed some essential parts so it could not be used. After dark, some hairy, ape-like creatures, called the Morlocks, approach him. They are the cause of the Eloi's fear. The Traveller discovers that the Morlocks run the machines that keep everything going. At first, he thinks they do so to benefit the Eloi; then he realizes the Morlocks are keeping the Eloi like farm animals in order to eat them!

Both races are the result of divergent human evolution: the Morlocks came from the lower classes of our time, and the Eloi from the upper. This explains the essential traits of both groups.

The Traveller has saved an Eloi girl named Weena from drowning. She guides him around as he keeps the Morlocks at bay with fire. He accidentally starts a forest fire, in which some Morlocks die--but so does Weena. The Time Traveller is heartbroken, as he had intended to take her back to his own time.

The Morlocks attempt to trap him, using the time machine as a lure, but as they close in on him, he replaces the parts and escapes 30 million years into the future. There he observes the dying earth, and continues jumping forward until the planet is almost gone.

He arrives back home just three hours after he had left, and comes late to his own party where he tells his amazing tale. He proves it's true by showing the party some strange flowers Weena had given him.

In a postscript, another narrator tells us that the Traveller takes another journey, from which he never returns.


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. at bay
  2. divergent
  3. frail
  4. implications
  5. lure
  6. narrator
  7. postscript
  8. staggers
  9. tackle
  10. traits

  1. thin and weak
  2. splitting; separating in different directions
  3. resulting ideas
  4. held back; unable to attack
  5. undertake; handle
  6. some writing added at the end
  7. the person telling the story
  8. characteristics; features
  9. walks unsteadily
  10. attract; tempt

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for November 2, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. b; 3. a; 4. c; 5. j; 6. g; 7. f; 8. i; 9. e; 10. h